The future of nations

This morning, in my car on the way to an appointment, I was listening to NPR’s The Takeaway. I felt like I caught a glimpse of the future of the nation-state in a common thread connecting their story about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent US visit, and another about ISIS.

In the piece on Modi, they talked with Arvind Rajagopal, a sociologist and media theorist at New York University. Rajagopal talked about how Modi made a strong nationalistic appeal to the Indian diaspora. What was notable, was that the appeal wasn’t for them to come back to India to support its development, but rather to support India’s interest wherever they were.

In the piece on ISIS, they interviewed Louise Shelly, the executive director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University. Shelly talked about how ISIS daws on age old smuggling routes in order to finance and supply its efforts.

What struck me is that both these stories hint at an interesting disconnect between geography, identity, power, influence and the economy, things that, in my naive view, are key ingredients in the classical nation state. And yet, here they are, present in forms that don’t quite fit that mold:

  • India, a nation with borders, redefined as a global nation with a geographic center, and a other aspects superimposed on other nation-states.
  • ISIS, a broad-based enterprise with aspirations of geographic borders whose assets are also superimposed on other nation-states.

And somewhere, in the same primordial goo, mixed with cryptocurrency, and social networks, and ragefaces, what else might emerge?

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